In January 2021 Uist in the Outer Hebrides received one of two Social Enterprise Place Awards, the first ever awarded within Scotland. In November CoDeL and Social Enterprise Scotland launched a brochure highlighting the history of community and social enterprises in Uist, the many diverse contributions they make now, and their ambitious goals for the future on the climate emergency, young people, health and inclusion, and Gaelic language and culture.
It is a remarkable showcase of just how strong and resilient our island communities are: we have been building community wealth for over 40 years, have sustained our island communities through Covid, which has in turn only served to heighten our ambitions for the future.
“It is inspiring reading of resilient, resourceful and dynamic communities and a great example of just how much people can achieve together. The document highlights their amazing history, and key priorities for the future.” (Scottish Rural Network).
The brochure “suggests Uist might be a good place to begin the reappraisal of rural policy” (Scottish Community Alliance).
Mags McSporran, head of Social Enterprise Development at Highlands and Islands Enterprise, has commented, “it is such a great picture of social enterprise in Uist, its longevity, innovation and out and out tenacity”. In a blog post, Mags says that the Scottish Government is prioritising the involvement of local communities and businesses in economic and community wealth building, and that there is so much to learn from the breadth of experience our communities have in stimulating sustainable development. Uist is an outstanding example of such “innovation … with community prosperity at its core”.
In CoDeL’s European work we have called for redefining peripherality: looking anew at remote island and rural communities to build on their remarkable strengths and assets that have always been there, but that became so much more visible during Covid. I n his opening remarks at the NPA’s annual event, the Chair David Minton suggested that, following the experience of Covid, peripheral communities who have been so far left behind may well now end up in front.
Communities on Uist demonstrate what flourishing peripheral communities can be – their strength and resilience, their cohesion and collaboration, their innovation and adaptability
You can access the document here.